I had to visit a government agency today to take care of some paperwork. The experience was as awful as I expected, which might be one reason it’s so easy to convince people that government agencies are hubs of incompetence devoted to inconveniencing citizens while extracting hard-earned dollars from their wallets.
Don’t @ me, bro — I believe in government’s power to do good at every level, and I am fully aware that most public servants are intelligent, hardworking and diligent. But I’ve noticed there’s often a conspicuous absence of evidence of this at the business end of bureaucracies. Maybe customer service training, massage chairs, WiFi and coffee bars would help? Just a thought.
Anyhoo, such errands are more arduous now that I live at the ends of the earth, so I listened to a podcast on the lengthy trip to the Waiting Room for the Recently Deceased from “Beetlejuice.” It was “With Friends Like These” from Ana Marie Cox, and she and her guest, Rebecca Traister, discussed the recent election results and the Democrats’ white woman problem, which we discussed earlier here.
Both acknowledged that Stacey Abrams was robbed. Traister was in touch with Abrams as she organized during the run-up to the election and talked about her (Abrams’) efforts to expand the electorate rather than count on unreliable white women or change the (tiny, narrow) minds of Trump voters. She mentioned that Gillum did the same in Florida, as did O’Rourke in Texas.
Traister and Cox recognized the incredible accomplishments of all three of these candidates, who made a race out of it in very inhospitable territory for Democrats. They also acknowledged the accomplishments of candidates who pulled off improbable wins, of which there were many.
The Cox-Traister consensus on future strategies for the Democratic Party boiled down to “more of this, please” with an all-out effort to push back against voter suppression. That makes sense to me.
But I heard election night and day-after commentary that struck a very different note, suggesting that the fact that these three specific candidates lost proves that Democrats can’t rely on a strategy of pulling folks off the sidelines but must instead find a way to appeal to, if not Trump voters, Obama-Trump voters.
I think that would take us to places we don’t want to go because, despite the assumption on the part of some pundits, a vote for Obama is not evidence that the voter couldn’t be persuaded later to support a racist demagogue.
Maybe it’s a glass half-full or half-empty thing, but despite the shitty result in my own state, I find the overall midterm results an affirmation of the “expand the electorate” strategy, not a proof point against it. What do you think?